California State Controller orders removal of social security numbers

California State Controller John Chiang has directed the Franchise Tax Board to remove Social Security Numbers from state tax liens. Tax liens are filed in county Recorder offices and entered into databases of tax liens and court judgments maintained by data aggregators, among which are Choicepoint, Merlindata and LexisNexis.

Current state law prohibits the Franchise Tax Board from publicly displaying an individual’s social security number in an effort to protect against identity theft. The law, though, provides an exception for reporting liens to third parties, such as financial institutions, employers and county recorders’ offices.

Chiang, who chairs the Franchise Tax Board, said the department will immediately begin lining out social security numbers and manually processing liens until a process is in place to automate the masking of social security numbers.

I alerted readers to this general trend a few weeks ago in, Why the judgments and liens databases will become obsolete.

How will this new policy affect private investigators, judgment collectors and background screeners?


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